Chapter

Crime, Harm, and Moral Wrong

Hyman Gross

in Crime and Punishment

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644711
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738944 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644711.003.0007
Crime, Harm, and Moral Wrong

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This chapter considers what a crime is, and particularly with reference to the harm that seems always to hover in the vicinity and often to occupy the limelight. The notion that there is always a moral wrong at the heart of the matter turns out to be very misleading. There are, in fact, five different categories of crimes whose difference lies in their different relationships to the harm that gives them their criminal character. And there are three different reasons why crimes may be morally wrong, all of them related to harm. Although many crimes are morally wrong, it is never the case that there is, or ought to be, criminal liability for them because they are morally wrong. Moreover, there are many crimes that are simply not morally wrong, though since there are good and sufficient reasons for having them on the books, imposing criminal liability for committing them is not wrong from a moral point of view.

Keywords: crime; moral wrong; harm; criminal liability

Chapter.  7331 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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